The boxer I knew: Trainer shares insight into tragic death
THE last time Sam Walker's former boxing coach Des Upton saw him was a couple of years ago, when Sam was headed to Brisbane with his mother to have a break from Rockhampton.
Mr Upton said Sam trained at Caboolture's boxing club and was doing well with trainer Don Tindall before he decided to return home to Rockhampton.
He said Sam was a great boxer with the potential to make it to the top, and when he was in the groove at training any problems he was dealing with seemed to melt away.
"Boxing helps. It gets the mind off worries and troubles," Mr Upton said.
"He loved boxing and he could fight. He had the potential to beat most blokes.
"When he went to the Australian titles last year, he was hitting the top knob. He could've gone to the Australian titles again, no problem.
"He was a good bloke, a big, tall, strong fella and could throw a punch. I didn't know he was back in Rockhampton."
Mr Upton, who is close friends with Sam's grandfather Graham, was shocked to hear from mutual friends that the 28-year-old had lost his life.
Sam was fatally injured during a wilful damage incident involving a motor vehicle on Saturday night.
"It's very sad. I don't know what went wrong," Mr Upton said.
"For anybody to die young is a shame. It's shocking. You never want it to happen.
"He kept to his own and did his own thing and was never angry at training.
"He trained hard, he was self-motivated and he helped out a bit with the other boys and taught them what he knew."
Mr Upton recalled one time when he was concerned for his young fighter, after he had lost a fight at an Australian Titles in Sydney.
"He just didn't seem to be on deck. He beat the bloke the first night but on the second night in the final, the bloke beat him," Mr Upton said.
"(The other fighter) was talking to him in the ring and tormenting him. It got to him a bit.
"He beat himself up. It took the confidence out of him."
Despite the set back, Sam didn't let the loss deter him, got back in the ring, and went on to win the Queensland Amateur Boxing title last year.
The long time coach said when Sam was at training he knuckled down and always put his best effort into training.
"He was one of those boxers who didn't need to be told what to do. He just did it," he said.
Mr Upton fondly remembered other tournaments he trained Sam for and his dedication to the sport.
"I sent him to Tasmania for the championships and he beat the bloke down there," he said proudly.
"I'm sad that he's gone.
"He was a good bloke, a nice bloke and he was easy to get along with."